Feature Article - April 2007
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Risky Business

Critical Safety Issues for Aquatic Facilities

By Joseph Ryan

In the past several years, aquatics have been gaining ground in the public mind as the new ticket to weight loss and a healthy life. Swimming is now routinely promoted by doctors and top university studies as one of the most effective and safest exercise activities to strengthen the heart and shed the pounds.

Meanwhile, the risks of swimming threaten to undermine all that aquatic proponents have strived to accomplish. Water-spread illnesses, drowning, diving injuries and suction entrapment cases continue to make headlines across the nation, permanently imprinting a negative view of aquatic facilities in the public mind.

"There is a lot that still needs to be done," said Tom Lachocki, CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF).

Industry analysts readily admit that there are pools that are not as safe as they can be, and unintentional ignorance on the part of some facility managers is often the culprit.

"I look at the pool as a loaded gun," said Tom Ebro, founder of Aquatic Risk Management. "It has inherent dangers."

Yet there are many simple means to ensure that an aquatic facility is safe and an example of what is right in the industry. Sometimes, experts say, it just takes a little education.